Hulu Readies Spring Launch of Its Live Streaming TV Service

Hulu’s live TV service, say sources, scheduled to launch this spring, will likely be priced at $39.99 per month, although a company spokesperson said that prices have not yet been finalized. The new live TV service, which will include access to Hulu Originals and on-demand content as well as live network broadcasts and broadcast networks’ on-demand content, will enter a crowded market, competing with Sling TV, DirectTV Now, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue and other streaming services. Continue reading Hulu Readies Spring Launch of Its Live Streaming TV Service

AMD Pitches Latency-Free Virtual Reality via Super-Fast Wi-Fi

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has acquired Nitero, a startup responsible for a 60-gigahertz wireless chip that transmits high-res video without latency. AMD, which bought the company for an undisclosed price, believes that Nitero’s chip will enable it to push sales of more wireless virtual reality headsets. Sales of VR headsets, according to AMD executive Roy Taylor, have been limited due to their need to be tethered to a computer. Nitero was originally a spinoff from a research center sponsored by the Australian government. Continue reading AMD Pitches Latency-Free Virtual Reality via Super-Fast Wi-Fi

Tech Companies Plan to Open Major Data Centers Worldwide

Some of the world’s biggest technology companies — namely, Amazon, Microsoft and Google — are investing in massive data centers, dubbed hyperscale computing, to better provide services in the cloud. In that vein, Amazon just announced that it will open an immense network of data centers in Stockholm next year. According to company filings, the three companies spent $31.54 billion in 2016 alone in capital expenditures and leases, in major part linked to improving cloud offerings, which increased 22 percent from 2015. Continue reading Tech Companies Plan to Open Major Data Centers Worldwide

Intel Debuts Memory Products Based on 3D XPoint Technology

Intel is shipping its first products based on 3D XPoint, a technology it has been developing for more than ten years to bridge the gap between conventional memory, which holds data for immediate use, and longer-term storage. The company reports that 3D XPoint is 1,000 times faster than NAND flash often used in storage drives, but only 1 percent the speed of DRAM (dynamic random-access memory) temporary memory. Intel says it can speed up tasks in fraud detection, retail recommendations and autonomous vehicles. Continue reading Intel Debuts Memory Products Based on 3D XPoint Technology

Sling TV Expands Cloud DVR Access in Early Access Program

Dish’s Sling TV is rolling out its new Cloud DVR to customers with Amazon devices through an early access program. The feature has been in private beta for Roku users since November. While one potential advantage of the cloud is never running out of storage space, “Sling TV isn’t offering infinite storage or even different storage capacities,” reports TechCrunch. “Instead, ‘First Look’ customers pay an extra $5 per month for up to 50 hours of storage, with no expiration on those programs. When capacity runs out, the oldest ‘watched’ recordings are removed first, to make room for others.” Sling TV’s Cloud DVR also allows users to record multiple programs simultaneously (although limited based on rights deals with broadcasters). Continue reading Sling TV Expands Cloud DVR Access in Early Access Program

Media Player Software Company Plex Debuts Online Service

Online service Plex Cloud, which has been in private beta since September, is now open to all paying Plex users. The new service “eliminates the need for an always-on PC or other network-attached piece of hardware in order to use the Plex media player software for watching your saved TV shows and movies, viewing photos or streaming from your music collection,” explains TechCrunch. Plex Cloud, which initially used Amazon Cloud Drive to host files, experienced a number of technical challenges that Plex says have been resolved. Plex supports Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox. Plex Cloud is now “an option for anyone who subscribes to Plex Pass, the company’s $5 per month, subscription-based service offering a variety of premium features.” Continue reading Media Player Software Company Plex Debuts Online Service

Facebook Introduces New Hardware for Use in Data Centers

Facebook unveiled new hardware for use in its data centers, designs for which will be made available to outside companies through its Open Compute Project. The announcements were made during this week’s OCP U.S. Summit in Santa Clara. One announcement centered on a new GPU server designed to better serve the company’s AI initiatives. Big Basin — successor to the company’s Big Sur high-performance compute platform — will help Facebook train machine learning models that are 30 percent larger than those running on current servers. Continue reading Facebook Introduces New Hardware for Use in Data Centers

HPA Tech Retreat: Impact of OTT Video on TV/Film Production

The Digital Production Partnership (DPP), formed and funded by UK broadcasters BBC, ITV and Channel 4 to help broadcast companies maximize the potential benefits of digital TV production, conducted in-depth research into how OTT video is produced. It reports that more audiovisual content is now commissioned for uses other than broadcast distribution, with many production companies now producing entirely for the non-broadcast market. At the HPA Tech Retreat in Indian Wells, DPP managing director Mark Harrison addressed how this is impacting the film/TV production industry. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Impact of OTT Video on TV/Film Production

Snap to Spend $1B on Amazon Cloud Services Over 5 Years

Yesterday we reported that Venice-based Snap Inc. — owner of the Snapchat app — had signed a 5-year deal for Google Cloud services valued at $2 billion. A revised version of its S-1 IPO filing, made public this morning, indicates that Snap is also planning to spend up to $1 billion on cloud support from Amazon Web Services. The deal was originally signed in 2016 and amended this week. According to Snap, it provides “redundant infrastructure support of our business operations,” and may lead the company toward investing in its “own infrastructure to better serve our customers.” Continue reading Snap to Spend $1B on Amazon Cloud Services Over 5 Years

Android Users Can Download Netflix Content onto SD Storage

Netflix is accommodating Android users who are interested in offline downloads but face storage limitations with their mobile devices. The streaming video service now allows users to store TV shows and movies on microSD cards. “The latest version of the Netflix app gives you a choice of saving things to internal storage or, if your phone supports SD, picking the external option instead,” reports The Verge. Previously, customers could only save to internal memory, which frustrated those “with 32GB of built-in space and a ton of expandable storage.” The offline Netflix content has time limits, however, and eventually expires. Continue reading Android Users Can Download Netflix Content onto SD Storage

Newly Published Google Overview Spells Out Security Details

In a recently published Infrastructure Security Design Overview, Google explains its six layers of security for the cloud it uses for its own operations and its public cloud services. The company also revealed that it designs custom chips, “including a hardware security chip that is currently being deployed on both servers and peripherals,” that allow it to “securely identify and authenticate legitimate Google devices at the hardware level.” The chip works with cryptographic signatures validated during each boot or update. Continue reading Newly Published Google Overview Spells Out Security Details

Hulu Relaunches with Live TV and UI, Home Screen Redesign

Hulu’s relaunch will feature a home screen with a personalized lineup that will be determined by the user’s set preferences and past viewing behavior. Among the options for that lineup are current TV shows, Hulu’s streaming exclusives and partner networks’ on-demand offerings. What won’t be there is a live TV feed or a traditional grid guide that allows the user to scroll through channels. In 2017, Hulu will offer live TV to its users for less than $40, while retaining its ad-supported and ad-free on-demand subscription plans. Continue reading Hulu Relaunches with Live TV and UI, Home Screen Redesign

CES: Kodak Enters the Mobile Market with Ektra Smartphone

Kodak’s digital Super 8 camera was not the company’s only nostalgic throwback showcased in Las Vegas. The camera company has finally entered the mobile market with its own Android smartphone – or at least a phone that licenses the Kodak name. Tech company Bullitt Group is behind the Kodak Ektra, which borrows its name from Kodak’s Ektra camera from the 1940s. That makes sense, since the phone is designed to mimic a point-and-shoot camera, featuring a 21-megapixel rear cam (but no optical zoom) and vintage leather finish. Continue reading CES: Kodak Enters the Mobile Market with Ektra Smartphone

CES: Fasetto Rolls Out a New Class of Connectivity with LINK

Wisconsin-based startup Fasetto demonstrated its LINK storage and communications device at CES 2017. Ideal for media production, the portable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4G connected device might be the easiest way to distribute video via up to 15 mixed devices. A production unit merely needs access to a web browser and a little more than eight hours of battery charging time for streaming distribution. This device might also function as a budget version of on-set video support. The compact design (2-inches by 2-inches by 1-inch deep and a mere 4 ounces) packs up to 2TB of solid state storage with a 64 bit octa-core 2.1GHz Exynos 7420 processor and 4GB of RAM. Continue reading CES: Fasetto Rolls Out a New Class of Connectivity with LINK

Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads

Last week, Netflix opened the doors to downloaded content for offline viewing on mobile devices. Now, the company is describing some judicious technology adjustments it made to ensure viewers enjoy an improved video image, and that the resulting content doesn’t eat up the mobile device’s storage. The company did that by switching video codecs, although the result favors Android users, as well as improving its already-established method of varying data rates based on the needs of each scene in a movie or TV show. Continue reading Netflix Makes Updates to Improve Visual Quality of Downloads